I was reading Ephesians 5 the other day which is a scripture that talks about how husbands and wives are to treat and relate to one another. And I got to verse 29 which reads:
After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body,
just as Christ does the church
I stopped in my tracks. Say what? No one ever hated their body? Well that’s about as false as I’ve ever heard. Apparently the women of Paul’s day did not suffer from the body image issues of the women of our day. Now, I realize that I took this verse a bit out of context, but it really got me thinking…
Do I know any women who do not have a rather volatile relationship with their body? I couldn’t think of any woman that I know that does not desire to change something about her body - whether it be a major or minor change - every female I know wants to change something.
Hate is a strong word. Perhaps we don’t “hate” our bodies but we certainly don’t give them the respect they deserve. We deprive ourselves of food and go on extreme diets that make us feel like garbage because we think if we lose some weight we’ll like ourselves better. And maybe, just maybe it will make us happier. Or worthy.
There was a period of time when I beat my body into submission. Tired, sore, injured…but I needed to push my body into the results I wanted. Maybe then I would feel worthy or people would be impressed and then I would feel more confident.
I have had enough conversations with other women to know that I am not alone in the way I treated my body. I was anything but kind and I think at times I felt my body was the enemy. My mind and body were not connected - my mind was saying “go” while my body was saying “no.”
Our bodies beg us to treat them with kindness. Our bodies want to be nourished properly - not crash dieted with hCG and 500 calories a day. We need good nutrition. We need to feed our bodies to function well so that we can live the kind of lifestyle that allows us to be the mothers, sisters, partners, friends we want to be.
Our bodies are designed to move. Fitness is a great thing that every body-loving human should do. But there is a line - and it’s not even a “fine line” - between pushing your body to extremes and exercising in a way that benefits your body. I have learned the hard way that “no pain no gain” is not necessarily the best mentality. We have to consider how long we want our bodies to last. If we want our bodies to be able to move well into our golden years, we need to move smarter.
All my adult life I have struggled to love my body. I have struggled with being happy with it just the way it is, appreciating it for all the amazing things it has done in 41 years. Why? Because it is drilled into us over and over again, everywhere we turn, that a certain type of body is more appealing than another. Tight and lean is better than soft and round. And so we strive for this unattainable, “perfect” body and in doing so we hate the body we have.
This scripture was a big “ah ha” moment for me and over the past few days I have found a great deal of peace as I meditate on it. God never designed us to hate our bodies. We are supposed to feed and care for our bodies. But we don’t do that because our society has taught us to do otherwise.
How are you treating your body? Who are you trying to please? If you’re trying to please God, it’s time to stop hating your body.